Affective Relations: The Transnational Politics of Empathy by Carolyn Pedwell (auth.)

By Carolyn Pedwell (auth.)

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Extra resources for Affective Relations: The Transnational Politics of Empathy

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This is not to suggest that the only response possible is resignation to the inevitability of neoliberalism, but instead to argue that it is in the ambivalences, tensions and contradictions of both emotion and global capitalism that spaces for thinking and feeling transnational encounters differently might emerge (Grewal, 2005). In this vein, Chapter 1 argues that, although Obama’s rhetoric of empathy might be dismissed as ‘neoliberal’, ‘nationalist’ or ‘imperialist’, it is also possible to mine the affective phenomena of Obama-mania for the critical modes of thinking and feeling beyond Introduction 33 the political status quo it generated.

However, what I call ‘confrontational empathy’ in Kincaid’s text works not to enable privileged subjects to put themselves in ‘the other’s’ shoes; rather, it is an uncompromising mode of affective perspective-taking by those usually viewed merely as empathetic postcolonial ‘objects’ which calls various subjects into account for their role in perpetuating damaging neocolonial and neoliberal relations. 64 Yet it also points to the role that alternative empathies can play in interrogating ideas of time as linear and universal and space as self-contained, foregrounding how we live affectively through different temporalities and spatialities with varying implications for our senses of possibility in and for the world.

22 From this perspective, ‘psychoanalysis makes sentimentality and nostalgia, not hatred, the enemies of kindness’ (50). Similarly, Dominic LaCapra argues that ‘empathetic unsettlement’ can play an important role ‘in attempting to understand traumatic events and victims’, placing ‘in jeopardy fetishised and totalizing narratives that deny the trauma that called them into existence by prematurely (re)turning to the pleasure principle, harmonising events and often recuperating the past in terms of uplifting messages or optimistic, self-serving scenarios’ (2001: 78).

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